One Word Can Change Everything

Yes Man is Liar Liar if always telling the truth was replaced with always saying “yes.” It seems far-fetched, but the movie is based on a true story. Humorist Danny Wallace wrote Yes Man after deciding to only say “yes” to everything for 6 months. Before Ant-Man, director Peyton Reed had Yes Man. It’s far from groundbreaking, but it was the right kind of comedy for Jim Carrey’s creative slump. Carl is a closed off divorced bank loan officer who says “no” to everything.

Bradley Cooper plays his concerned friend Peter who tries to get him out of his comfort zone, but it’s John Michael Higgins as a former colleague who turns Carl’s life around. It’s at a “yes” seminar that Terence Stamp convinces Carl to be a “yes!” man. I wasn’t sure how saying “yes” to everything would be funny, but Carrey knows how to make it hilarious. Carl says “yes” to every pop-up add, every sign-up sheet, and everything else that comes his way. Even an uncomfortable proposition from an old lady. The positive impacts are a promotion from his eccentric boss played by Rhys Darby and using his newly acquired talents to help people.

Carl speaks Korean to a bridal shop employee and talks down a suicide jumper by singing “Jumper” by Third Eye Blind. He also falls in love with the equally outgoing Allison played by Zooey Deschanel. Their spontaneous relationship goes well at first, but there are obvious problems with saying “yes” to everything. Like giving a homeless man all his money, getting in a fight, or agreeing to move in with Allison. The inevitable misunderstanding is predictable, but they do get back on track with a balanced message. Yes Man gets a “yes” from me.

Yes Man

Carl learns to say “yes”

From Gentle to Mental

Me, Myself & Irene gave Jim Carrey an excuse to go crazy. 2000 wasn’t always the best year for comedians who were popular in the 90’s. Me, Myself & Irene is the second collaboration between Carrey and the Farrelly Brothers. Aside from being a road movie set in Rhode Island, Me, Myself & Irene is a bit dumber than Dumb and Dumber. The title refers to a split personality disorder. Carrey plays friendly pushover and state trooper Charlie Baileygates. When his wife leaves him for an intelligent black little person, Charlie lives in denial with his three black children.

All the disrespect and pent up rage causes Hank to come out. I feel like any problem people had with The Cable Guy is much worse in Me, Myself & Irene. Hank is a foul mouthed psychopath and sexual deviant who lets out Charlie’s aggression. Carrey’s manic energy is funny when he’s trying to put down an injured cow, but not so much when he’s attacking children. The Farrelly Brothers’ gross out humor also goes too far with sex toys and less creative poop jokes.

Black jokes are funny to a degree, but the sons constantly saying “motherf***er” gets old after awhile. Anthony Anderson is the only recognizable actor in the trio. Renée Zellweger is the titular Irene who hates Hank, but begins to fall for Charlie. She’s caught up in an overly complicated plot by a criminal ex-boyfriend. Chris Cooper, Robert Forster, and Richard Jenkins give the movie credibility, while narrator Rex Allen Jr. gives it an easygoing feel. Of course it does go off the rails with a physical fight between Charlie and Hank. Me, Myself & Irene can only do so much with two Jim Carrey performances.

Me, Myself & Irene

Charlie, Hank and Irene take the road

Rescuing the Joan

The Jewel of the Nile couldn’t keep the adventure going. Lacking the charm that made Romancing the Stone so enjoyable. Since Robert Zemeckis was busy directing Back to the Future in 1985, Lewis Teague had to take over. The Jewel of the Nile was plagued with problems from the start. Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner were forced to return, and Turner hated the script. Douglas had to do rewrites, footage was lost, crewmembers died, and the new setting was unbearably hot.

The Jewel of the Nile now takes place in the desert. It’s just not the same as the jungle. Jack T. Colton and Joan Wilder are still together on the yacht that he bought at the end of the first movie. Of course they have relationship problems which brings us back to square one. Joan gets kidnapped by an Arab ruler named Omar under the guise of writing his life story. When he turns out to be a terrorist, Jack must rescue her with unlikely help from Ralph.

Aside from Holland Taylor as Joan’s publisher, Danny DeVito is sort of redeemed as the smuggler. It’s in the desert that the titular “Jewel of the Nile” is revealed to be a person. A holy man played by entertainer Avner the Eccentric. Aside from a grounded airplane attack, the sequel doesn’t do much to stand out. The Billy Ocean song “When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going” is the best thing to come out of it. Since The Crimson Eagle or Racing the Monsoon were cancelled, The War of the Roses is the closest thing to third installment. The Jewel of the Nile doesn’t shine nearly as bright.

The Jewel of the Nile

Jack and Joan in an African village

Preceded by: Romancing the Stone

The Quest for El Corazón

Romancing the Stone is an old fashioned adventure for the modern age. It’s basically Robert Zemeckis’ version of Indiana Jones. Bare in mind this was before Zemeckis was a beloved director. His previous failures made 20th Century Fox hesitant to accept his next project. Not only was Romancing the Stone his first hit film, it paved the way for Back to the Future and so many other modern classics. Romancing the Stone is a lot like an old adventure serial. Kathleen Turner is still very sexy in the role of romance author Joan Wilder. Wilder lives alone, but longs for the kind of man she writes about in her books.

She gets her wish when her sister Elaine is kidnapped by smugglers searching for a treasure map that she possesses. There are at least three separate parties who want the treasure. An untrustworthy Danny DeVito is the less violent antiquities smuggler Ralph. His cousin Ira is the one holding Elaine, but there’s someone worse than them. The murderous Colonel Zolo is a member of the secret police who hunts down Joan in Colombia with the intention of securing the treasure. Michael Douglas arrives later on as bird smuggling scoundrel Jack T. Colton.

Together Jack and Joan trek through the jungle, evade gunfire, and deadly crocodiles until they find El Corazón, which ends up being an emerald gem. Though it seems like Jack is simply romancing the stone from Joan, their passionate romance is helped by Douglas and Turner’s chemistry. Romancing the Stone is a 1984 film just like Temple of Doom with a hard PG that includes a steamy bedroom scene and a graphic dismemberment. The climax is so exciting that it gives Joan everything she needs to write her next book. Romancing the Stone has action, humor, and heart.

Romancing the Stone

Jack T. Colton and Joan Wilder at the waterfall

Followed by: The Jewel of the Nile

Human Nature

The African Queen is the original romantic adventure in the jungle. So many films have been inspired by it, but I never really knew what it was about. The African Queen is shot in full technicolor that really brings its African setting to life. It’s another Hollywood classic that wasn’t nominated for Best Picture, but did receive a lot of Oscar attention. John Huston was once again nominated for Best Director. The Oscar nominated Screenplay is based on the 1935 C. S. Forester novel of the same name. Although set during World War I, the primary difference between book and movie is making the Germans more villainous.

Aside from genuine African villagers and mostly unseen German officers, The African Queen is carried by two characters. Luckily they cast two of the biggest stars in Hollywood. This was the earliest I’ve seen Katherine Hepburn in her 5th nomination for Best Actress. Humphrey Bogart finally won Best Actor after failing to win for Casablanca and being snubbed for Treasure of the Sierra Madre. The latter was also directed by Huston and Bogie is just as gruff. Hepburn is British missionary Rose Sayer who loses her brother during a German attack. Robert Morley briefly plays “The Brother” who dies from shock.

Although Cockney British in the book, Bogie plays the Canadian riverboat captain Charlie Allnut. He offers her safe passage on the titular African Queen. Charlie is a more lively drinker and Rose is a more refined sophisticate, but all their humorous bickering leads to romance. Of course an unmarried couple cohabiting a boat was quite scandalous for 1951. Together they fix up the boat, travel through treacherous waters, and formulate a plan to sink the Königin Luise with makeshift torpedos. The African Queen set a standard for decades to come.

The African Queen

Charlie and Rose take the African Queen downriver


The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is the role Nicolas Cage was born to play… himself! I’ve seen a majority of Cage’s most iconic roles. His crazy over-the-top style of acting makes him a one of a kind celebrity. I don’t usually see comedies in theaters, but Massive Talent looked too hilarious to ignore. Nic Cage struggles to get major movie roles, has a strained relationship with his fictional wife & daughter, and deals with an obnoxious younger version of himself named Nicky.

He considers retirement, but accepts a mysterious $1 million offer to come to the birthday party of a Spanish billionaire. The very popular Pedro Pascal is the only fellow actor I buy as original character Javi. Neil Patrick Harris feels too much like himself playing Cage’s agent. I also don’t buy comedians Tiffany Haddish or Ike Barinholtz as CIA agents. Cage is recruited to take out Javi when he’s revealed to be a potential arms dealer, but he can’t bring himself to kill him. Their funniest moment involves them taking acid and creating their own action movie in their heads.

Nic and Javi share an infectious bond over great movies like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Paddington 2. Of course the biggest draw is every reference made to Cage’s entire filmography. References are made to Moonstruck, The Rock, Con Air, Face/Off, and other more obscure films. Like AdaptationMassive Talent goes completely off the rails by the end. Although I think there’s too much profanity, violence is mostly played for laughs. There are car chases, gun fights, and 2 kidnaped daughters to rescue. Though it could’ve worked with other celebrities, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is pure Nicolas Cage.

Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent

Nic Cage and Javi make a run for it

The Orchid Thief

Adaptation. is an adaptation of a book being adapted within the movie that’s being watched. If you thought Being John Malkovich was bizarre, director Spike Jonze and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman matched that insanity in a very meta way. Adaptation. was always on my radar, but it was mostly a co-worker who recommended it. The adaptation takes place during the filming of Being John Malkovich as Charlie Kaufman works on his next movie project. Nicolas Cage earned his second nomination for Best Actor as his insanity is put to good use playing both the real life Charlie and his fictional twin brother Donald.

Kaufman suffers from severe writer’s block attempting to adapt The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean. Since the book is mostly about flowers, it somehow makes sense to make a movie about trying to make it interesting. Charlie is also full of self-loathing and has sexually frustrated fantasies with Judy Greer. Cara Seymour, Tilda Swinton, and Maggie Gyllenhaal play fictional characters, but Ron Livingston and Brian Cox play a real life movie executive and story consultant respectively. As Charlie works on his script and Donald writes the fictitious thriller The 3, Susan Orlean is in the process of writing The Orchid Thief.

Of course Meryl Streep received another Oscar nomination as the real life author. Although initially objecting to her portrayal as a sexually repressed drug addict, Orlean’s book is well adapted. All the awards attention ended up going to Best Supporting Actor Chris Cooper as the titular orchid thief John Laroche. He’s rough on the outside, but his passion for flowers awakens something in Orlean and Kaufman. Their stories intertwin in a crazy way that obviously never happened. Adaptation. ended up better than the intended source material.


Charlie and Donald Kaufman work on adapting

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

Sing 2 is bigger and more high energy than the original. It’s definitely the best Illumination sequel not associated with the Minions, but I’d say both movies are about equal. Both Sing and Sing 2 ironically ended up with the same Rotten Tomatoes score of 71%. Although I got tired of seeing the same trailer over and over again, Sing 2 exceeded all my expectations. The computer animation is dazzling and it makes proper use of all its previously introduced characters. The main cast including Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Taron Egerton, Tori Kelly, and Nick Kroll all return except for Seth MacFarlane. Either because of his already tight schedule or the fact that Mike was never a team player. In the sequel, the theater is thriving and Buster Moon continues to put on elaborate shows with his committed theater troupe. Meena, Johnny, Rosita, and Gunter put on a colorful performance of Alice in Wonderland to the tune of “Let’s Go Crazy.”

Ash isn’t around since she has her own solo career, but she returns to help out when a dog talent scout named Suki Lane tells them they aren’t good enough. Eddie doesn’t return either, but Nana is still around to inspire Buster. They travel to the Las Vegas inspired Redshore City where they audition in front of high powered media mogul Jimmy Crystal. Bobby Cannavale voices the big bad wolf who isn’t above killing Buster to get what he wants. Buster promises an even more elaborate sci-fi show called Out of this World. The idea was actually Gunter’s who plays a robot in the show. Rosita has all the confidence she needs, but her biggest challenge is a fear of heights that costs her the lead role. Her role is temporarily given to Crystal’s spoiled daughter Porsha voiced by Halsey. She can sing well, but she can’t act (the character, not the singer).

Rosita’s husband Norman and 25 piglets are very supportive and the moment she leaps is very inspirational. Meena is in an awkward romantic scene with an egotistical yak voiced by Eric André. She ends up developing an adorable crush on a local ice cream vendor voiced by Pharrell Williams. Johnny deals with his own bully when he’s tasked with learning to dance for the show. Klaus Kickenklober is a pompous monkey who hates Johnny for no reason. So the latter befriends a street dancing lynx named Nooshy voiced by Letitia Wright. Ash is arguably the lead this time around since she has the most important job. Tracking down the reclusive star attraction Clay Calloway. Miss Crawley does it at first, but she’s still given plenty of funny scenes. Calloway is an aging lion voiced by Bono himself. Calloway has an emotional arc that ends with a satisfying performance of Bono’s signature song “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” Sing 2 unites multiple generations through the awesome power of song.

10. Sing 2

Buster Moon and his theater troupe

Preceded by: Sing

There’s Only One Way Left to Go, and that’s Up!

Sing was a guaranteed success. Kids love talking animals and everyone loves music. Proving that Illumination prefers to play it safe. Sing came out the same year as The Secret Life of Pets, when the studio was experimenting with Non-Minion movies. Even though they basically followed up bipedal animals with anthropomorphic animals. Despite a ridiculously simple title and premise, Sing ended up trying a lot harder than it needed to. The computer animation used on the animals is just as good as The Secret Life of Pets with the addition of colorful outfits. Although it came out the same year as Zootopia, the animal world isn’t that much different from our own. There’s arguably more attention given to the singing competition. Singing competitions are a dime a dozen these days, but it feels fresh thanks to the committed cast.

Matthew McConaughey voices passionate theater owning koala Buster Moon. He’s loved the theater ever since he was a little joey. Jennifer Saunders voices the once famous sheep singer Nana Noodleman who used to be a star attraction. John C. Reilly voices Buster’s rich kid best friend and Nana’s grandson Eddie who can’t help when the theater has financial trouble. Sing is another “save the theater” movie with the bank trying to foreclose the property. The singing competition brings out several aspiring animals with big dreams. The director Garth Jennings voices Buster’s klutzy iguana assistant Miss Crawly who accidentally advertises the prize money as $100,000. The audition is a fun musical number with a variety of fun songs and a diverse group of animals. Reese Witherspoon voices pig housewife Rosita with 25 piglets who loves singing well known pop songs. Although she has a workaholic husband named Norman appropriately voiced by Nick Offerman, Rosita is partnered with fellow pig Gunter. Nick Kroll voices the enthusiastic German dancer who gives Rosita the confidence she needs. Their closing song ends up being a high energy take on “Shake it Off.”

Taron Egerton voices British gorilla Johnny who works for his father’s gang, but dreams of being a singer. Despite his father’s disapproval, Johnny wins his admiration after learning the piano and performing “I’m Still Standing.” His closing song is ironic since Egerton later played Elton John. Scarlett Johansson voices teenage punk rocker porcupine Ash who breaks up with her boyfriend for a solo career. Although I don’t buy Johansson as a teenager, Ash’s original songs are a refreshing change of pace. Her closing song is called “Set it All Free.” Despite being a kid’s movie, Seth MacFarlane found time to voice Frank Sinatra-esque crooner mouse Mike. Although Mike is a jerk throughout, he desperately needs the money to pay off angry bears. Yet he’ll still risk his life to sing “My Way.” The lead singer is arguably Tori Kelly as young elephant Meena. Despite having terrible stage fright, Meena literally brings down the house performing “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing.” Even after the theater floods, the performances are enough to keep it open. Sing puts on a great show.

9. Sing

Buster Moon reopens his theater

Followed by: Sing 2

On My Way

Marry Me is easy to say yes to. Months before her marriage to Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez got married in a very unlikely rom-com. Marry Me brings together a pop superstar and an ordinary math teacher. When her high profile on-stage wedding goes wrong, she chooses to marry a random guy holding a “Marry Me” sign. Believe it or not, Marry Me is actually based on an online graphic novel. The highly improbable plot is the same, but the cast makes it different. Kat Valdez is basically J.Lo since she’s already a guaranteed pop icon who can act.

Not only is Marry Me pretty to look at, J.Lo put a lot of effort into writing catchy original songs for the movie. Some of which were recorded with fellow Latin singer Maluma. He plays her intended fianceé and fellow singer Bastian who gets caught cheating. Although they seemed like the perfect Spanish power couple, J.Lo has a surprising amount of chemistry with Owen Wilson. Charlie Gilbert is just a boring math teacher and single father to his daughter Lou.

A tolerable Sarah Silverman plays Charlie’s best friend Parker who forces him to go to the concert in the first place. Kat’s only real friend is her assistant Colin played by John Bradley. After the impromptu wedding, Kat and Charlie agree to convince the public of their marriage. They couldn’t be more different, but the way they fall in love is believable. Charlie teaches Kat to be self-reliant and Kat teaches Charlie to loosen up. Though he fears their from two different worlds, she proves they’re meant to be together. Marry Me is unorthodox, but romantic.

Marry Me

Kat Valdez marries Charlie Gilbert on stage